Saudi Arabia Saturday slammed the comments by Russia's human rights envoy, who had expressed great concern about the situation in the Gulf Kingdom, and condemned an unjustified interference in the Kingdom's internal affairs, state media Saudi Press Agency reported.
The rare public spat between Russia, Syrian President Assad's strong supporter, and Saudi which supports Syrian rebels, appeared to reflect the tensions between the nations over the 16-month-old Syrian uprising which, according to Syrian opposition, has resulted in the death of over 17,000 people.
Russian Human Rights envoy Konstantin Dolgov had expressed great concern about the situation in east Saudi following what he described as clashes between law enforcement and peaceful demonstrators in which two people were killed and more than 20 were wounded last Sunday, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry website.
The Saudi Interior Ministry said that there had been no clashes between police and protesters in Awamiya, a Shia Muslim area in the oil-rich eastern part of the country, and two people had been killed by unknown assailants.
The Kingdom learned with strong astonishment and surprise about the comment by the Russian Foreign Ministry's representative on human rights which represents a blatant and unjustified intervention ... in the internal affairs of the kingdom, SPA said quoting a Foreign Ministry statement.
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The kingdom hopes that this strange comment was not intended to divert attention from the savage and ugly massacres that the Syrian regime is practising against its own people with support and backing from known parties that are obstructing any honest effort to end the bloodshed of the Syrian people.
Dolgov had said that people in eastern Saudi Arabia were protesting against the existing, according to their opinion, impairment of the rights of the Shi'ite community on the part of the authorities of the Kingdom.
Russia had blocked two UNSC resolutions calling for tougher actions against the Syrian regime and declared that it was decisively against a military intervention in what they felt was Syria's domestic crisis.
At the Friends of Syria meeting in Paris July 6, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: I ask you to reach out to Russia and China and to not only urge but demand that they get off the sidelines and begin to support the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.
U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay earlier this month said that the flow of weapons to Syrian forces as well as the rebels had intensified the crisis.
The ongoing provision of arms to the Syrian government and to its opponents feeds additional violence, Pillay told the Security Council, as reported by Reuters. Any further militarization of the conflict must be avoided at all costs.
Pillay didn't mention the names of the arms suppliers although Russia and Iran largely supply weapons to the Syrian regime. Qatar and Saudi Arabia are believed to be delivering arms to the opposition groups while the U.S. maintains that it supplies only non-lethal aid to the rebels.